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KYRGYZ REPUBLIC - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Kyrgyz Republic. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the possibility of violent crime and occasional civil unrest.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Areas south and west of Osh, the Fergana Valley and borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
Violent clashes were reported in the Batken, Jalal-Abad and Osh oblasts (provinces) in June 2010 that left more than 350 people dead and at least 2,000 injured. Although no incidents have occurred recently, the security situation in areas south and west of Osh, throughout the Fergana Valley and along the borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan remains volatile and unpredictable, and there is a possibility of violence and unrest.
Areas bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are mined. Only use officially recognized border crossings, as landmines may be present in uncontrolled border areas. Confirm that border posts are open before travelling there.
Heightened regional tensions may place you at greater risk. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly in commercial establishments (such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship), public places, at outdoor recreational events and in tourist areas frequented by foreigners.
Other border crossings
Uzbekistan land border crossings are open to citizens of some countries, including Canada, but are closed to Kyrgyz citizens. Access to border crossings with Kazakhstan may be restricted without warning.
The Kyrgyz Republic has a high rate of violent crime and foreigners have been targeted. Organized gangs are common. Robbery, mugging and pickpocketing occur frequently near major hotels, bars and parks and on public transportation. Remain vigilant and ensure that your personal belongings and documents are secure. Do not show signs of affluence and avoid carrying large sums of money.
Robberies have been committed by men in police uniforms; if approached by such a man, ask to see his police credentials. Also, men posing as “meet and greet” airport facilitators lure unsuspecting foreigners into cars and demand money. Make prior arrangements with your contacts and ask for identification upon arrival. Do not leave the airport with anyone who does not show you their identification.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Avoid public transportation, which is unsafe and unreliable.
At night, call a reputable taxi service in advance before leaving popular restaurants and places of recreation. Foreigners have been specifically targeted leaving such venues.
Use only officially marked taxis, pre-negotiate the fare and do not share a ride with strangers.
Drive defensively, as traffic accidents are a common cause of death and injury. Roads are poorly maintained and inadequately lit, and traffic regulations are often ignored. Buy gas in the cities of Bishkek and Osh because there are few gas stations outside those cities.
Roads to Tashkent are hazardous in winter.
Air travel is limited. Unannounced delays and flight cancellations are common in winter due to poor weather conditions. Reservations on regional airlines are not always respected. Confirm flights with your airline prior to departure.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Police can arrest visitors who do not carry identification. Keep a legally certified copy of your visa and registration with you at all times, and your passport and visa in safekeeping facilities. Leave a photocopy of your travel documents with a relative or a friend at home.
Do not walk or travel alone, especially at night.
Tourist facilities are not highly developed.
Dial 101 for fire emergency services and 102 for police.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Kyrgyz authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Kyrgyz Republic, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
You must register your passport with the Passport Visa Services Unit within three business days after your arrival in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit the Kyrgyz Republic.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays up to 60 days)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required
Letter of invitation
A letter of invitation is required for stays of more than one month (this requirement does not apply to tourist visas).
If you plan to travel to both the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, with Almaty, Kazakhstan, as your arrival and departure point, you need a multiple-entry Kazakhstan visa in addition to a Kyrgyz visa.
Routine and strict border controls are implemented on the road between Almaty and Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, making travel in this region difficult. Strictly adhere to visa regulations.
You must obtain special permission from Chinese authorities prior to travelling to China from the Kyrgyz Republic.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Asia, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services and facilities
Medical services in the Kyrgyz Republic are limited and are not up to Canadian standards. Some common medications may not be available or may be restricted.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An international driving permit is required.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual activity is legal but not widely accepted by Kyrgyz society.
Photography of military installations or government buildings may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking such photographs.
Although the Kyrgyz Republic is a secular country, Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to, particularly in rural areas. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the Kyrgyzstani som. The economy is primarily cash-based. Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. Declare foreign currency upon entry; you cannot leave with more foreign money than you brought in. Convert Kyrgyzstani soms into euros or U.S. dollars before leaving the country, as you will not be able to do so after departure. Automated banking machines are widely available in Bishkek but may be limited in rural areas. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels, some restaurants and most banks. Due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity, use credit cards with caution. Leave copies of your card numbers with a family member, in case of emergency.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The Kyrgyz Republic is located in an active seismic zone.
Avalanches and landslides are common in mountainous areas, especially in the spring. They can be hazardous and block road access.
Bishkek - Consulate of Canada
Astana - Embassy of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Astana, Kazakhstan, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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